David H. Hackworth
10 Mar 98



Like most Pentagon critics who dish it out, I get my share of incoming. I measure the effectiveness of my efforts by the Pentagon's counter attacks. "Hack the Quack," is a sobriquet, whispered by some of the star bearers. But most often it's " He doesn't know what he's talking about," or "He's battle-rattled ­ you know, eight Purple Hearts and the first one was a bullet through the head." Or "In Vietnam he ran a whorehouse for his troops and broke every rule in the book."

But last May, CBS News hit me below the belt. David Martin, the CBS Pentagon reporter, zapped me by saying I'd "worn" awards I hadn't won. It surprised me how many people in the press piled on and did a "gotcha" story. Like Martin, many of the scribes eagerly drank from the poisoned well of stalkers, who'd been working ever since Vietnam to slime my character.

Dan Rather fell for it and led his story with "Questions of Honor" and "Accuser Stands Accused." He was referring to Adm. Jeremy Boorda who killed himself supposedly because of my pending story that he wore two valor devices he didn't deserve.

I was shocked. I initially thought the brass had fed CBS lies about the medals they'd reissued me in 1988, long after I retired.

My defense was that, "I'd never worn a medal the Army didn't issue me." Fortunately, the publisher of this newspaper accepted my stand: "Why would I add an award to my resume, when I have over two dozen individual valor awards? What possible difference would another Distinguished Flying Cross or a Ranger Tab make?"

When I recovered from CBS's Sunday punch, I asked the Army to audit my awards. Last week, Col. John Osweiler, the Army's chief of awards, said his audit supported what I'd been saying all along. Any confusion was the Army's honest mistake.

So, even though I am one of the Army's toughest critics, when it comes to honor, the Army stood tall and did the right thing.

The audit also showed that I was entitled to 10 Silver Stars, not the nine I had listed. I wonder if CBS is going to report that?

When you dish it out, you've got to be able to take it. But what hurts is when good reporters carelessly put out misinformation. To understand why Rather and Martin got it so wrong, you need a little history.

I've been at war with the Pentagon for nearly 30 years now, and for some reason that still baffles me, these two reporters decided to take the wrong side. As a result, they got taken for a ride.

Here are the facts. In 1971, the U.S. Army and I got into a serious firefight. From the trenches of Vietnam, as a new full colonel, I said to the world, "We've lost the war, and the top brass are lying to the American people."

It was hardly an act to enhance my career or to endear me to Gen. William Westmoreland. But I didn't care. I'd seen too many good men get killed without our leaders -- military and political -- telling the folks at home the truth.

Since then, I've continued to be a gadfly of the Pentagon. My motivation is simple: to ensure those in charge learn from the past so our future combatants don't die in vain.

Fifty two years ago in Italy, I saw my first American soldier die. He was caught in a minefield that an engineer officer forgot to mark.

This was followed by two years as a grunt in the Korean War, where I saw hundreds of teenagers blown apart because the brass didn't handle the war right. Then followed four years in Vietnam, where so many of the senior leaders acted like butchers as they worried more about enhancing their careers than the American teenagers who were filling so many bodybags.

In Somalia, another Vietnam on a mini scale, men died again in vain.

Will the folks at CBS apologize? Who knows. But let's hope in the future, they'll be more careful and get the facts before they start stringing a fellow up.

Thanks too to all of you for your faith and support. You're the ones who keep me fighting.




"Sir, I am forwarding an updated copy of the listing of your awards.






Individual Decorations & Service Medals


Distinguished Service Cross (with one Oak Leaf Cluster)

Silver Star (with nine Oak Leaf Clusters)

Legion of Merit (with three Oak Leaf Clusters)

Distinguished Flying Cross

Bronze Star Medal (with "V" Device & seven Oak Leaf Clusters) (Seven of the awards for heroism)

Purple Heart (with seven Oak Leaf Clusters)

Air Medal (with "V" Device & Numeral 34) (One for heroism and 33 for aerial achievement)

Army Commendation Medal (w/ "V" Device & 3 Oak Leaf Clusters)

Good Conduct Medal

World War II Victory Medal

Army of Occupation Medal (with Germany and Japan Clasps)

National Defense Service Medal (with one Bronze Service Star)

Korean Service Medal (with Service Stars for eight campaigns)

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal

Vietnam Service Medal (2 Silver Service Stars = 10 campaigns)

Armed Forces Reserve Medal


Unit Awards

Presidential Unit Citation (with one Oak Leaf Cluster)

Valorous Unit Award (with one Oak Leaf Cluster)

Meritorious Unit Commendation


Badges & Tabs

Combat Infantryman Badge (w/ one Star; representing 2 awards)

Master Parachutist Badge

Army General Staff Identification Badge



Foreign Awards

United Nations Service Medal (Korea)

Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device (1960)

Vietnam Cross of Gallantry (with two Gold Stars)

Vietnam Cross of Gallantry (with two Silver Stars)

Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal (1st Class)

Vietnam Staff Service Medal (1st Class)

Vietnam Army Distinguished Service Order, 2d Class

Vietnam Parachutist Badge (Master Level)


Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation

Republic of Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation

Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation (with three Palm oak leaf clusters)

Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Honor Medal, First Class Unit Citation (with one Palm oak leaf cluster)


Prepared: 27 Feb 98






Awards and Decorations - Items at Issue:


Silver Star (SS) - The OMPF contains documentation (i.e., an award order and DD Form 214) that indicates award of the SS (9th OLC) (i.e., ten awards). However, COL(R) Hackworth's biography of military awards on the worldwide web (19 May 97) only reflects Silver Star with eight Oak Leaf Clusters (i.e., nine awards).


Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) - The Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) substantiates only one (1) award of the DFC. However, subsequent to individual's retirement, a full issue of engraved medal sets was authorized by the Military Awards Branch. In documents dated 25 Sep 72, 2 Jun 76 and 5 Oct 88, the DFC was requisitioned for the individual along with two oak leaf clusters. However, COL(R) Hackworth questioned the accuracy of this item in a note to XO, VCSA. Sometime in May 97, COL(R) Hackworth's biography of military awards on the worldwide web was adjusted to reflect only one award of the DFC.


Air Medal (AM) - The OMPF contains documentation (i.e., award orders and DD Form 214) that indicates as many as 48 awards of the AM; however, it appears there were some errors in the award orders. Orders on file in the OMPF document 34 actual awards of the AM; one for valor. COL(R) Hackworth's biography of military awards on the worldwide web (19 May97) reflected Air Medal with thirty-four Oak Leaf Clusters .)


Ranger Tab - Authorization for the Ranger Tab appears on the Officer Qualification Record of the OMPF and DD Form 214. There is no record in the OMPF to substantiate COL(R) Hackworth entitlement to the Ranger Tab. Authorization for the Ranger Tab appears on the Officer Qualification Record of the OMPF and may have been based on a reconstructed enlisted assignment entry that indicated the individual had served in the 5th Ranger Company in Korea. However, it appears this is an erroneous entry."


Col. John Osweiler 703- 325- 4327